The answer is composition. This is an area that I have struggled with in photography and something that I have been working hard to improve on. It is what distinguishes a typical tourist snapshot from a great photograph.
In this example from my recent trip to St. Thomas, USVI, I happened upon some very interesting rocks at a beach. Well I know that my equipment is up to the task, my Nikon D700, my Nikon 24-70 lens and my Singh-Ray LB color combo polarizer. I set up my shot, check the light, frame it, focus and I have a photo of some rocks, cool looking volcanic rocks at that.
Ok, the light looks good, nice water in the background . . . ok I am done. A nice tourist snapshot for the album. Really? Is that what I am trying to get out of photography? In the past I would have been happy. In this case I kept looking. There was some reason why I stopped to look at these rocks.
In composing a photograph, a photographer needs to ask themselves "what do I see and why do I want to photograph it"? In this case there was something about these rocks that attracted me, the color, the shape . . .
|The Praying Hands|
I need to take more time to see what is around me and use my camera to capture it. Composition to me is simply, taking a picture of what captures my interest. This is often easier said than done but I am working on it. If this topic is of interest to you, here are some books that have helped me with composition:
The Tao of Photography
Contemporary Landscape Photography: Professional Techniques for Capturing Spectacular Settings